(TRENTON) – The General Assembly on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex), Mila Jasey (D-Essex/Morris) and Benjie Wimberly (D-Passaic/Bergen) to prevent the state from unjustly punishing school districts by withholding state aid because the majority of the district’s students refuse to take the PARCC test.
According to recent news articles, the state commissioner of education has suggested the possibility of withholding state aid if a significant number of students in a district do not take an assessment. This bill would prevent districts from being penalized for matters beyond their control.
“Threatening to cut state aid to districts for a decision made entirely by parents – a decision they believe is in the best interest of their children – is unreasonable,” said Diegnan, who chairs the Assembly Education Committee and sponsored the Assembly bill to allow parents to opt their children out of the PARCC test. “The stance taken by the commissioner does nothing to quell the frustration that many parents feel towards the PARCC, and risks pitting parents and schools against each other.”
The bill (A-4485) would prohibit the state Commissioner of Education from withholding state school aid from a school district based on the participation rate of its students on the state assessments.
“Threatening to cut funding will only further alienate parents who chose to opt out of the PARCC because they did not trust that the test was in the best academic interest of their children,” said Jasey. “Many school districts are dealing with the repercussions of having their state aid reduced over the years. Withholding these funds over student participation would ultimately hurt the students.”
“Punishing schools for decisions they did not make makes no sense. These parents refused the PARCC out of concern over the test and its effects on the academic future of their kids. By cutting school state aid, the commissioner is inadvertently proving their point,” said Wimberly. “Less funds mean less resources which will affect the caliber of education these students receive. Instead of pressuring parents into compliance the commissioner should be working to ease those concerns.”
The bill was approved 59-16-3 by the Assembly and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.